So the senior season of the state’s top high school football prospect – one of the area’s best prospects in years – barely got started before it ended. Or did it?
The Hendersonville Star News reported Wednesday that running back Jalen Hurd, a University of Tennessee commitment, will undergo shoulder surgery that will force him to miss the remainder of the season.
The reported cited Hurd’s mother, Tara Smotherman, who said:
“They’re going to stabilize the shoulder really well now, so we shouldn’t have to worry about any more dislocations. Had this been later in the season, he might have been able to play. But with it being so early, there was no reason to risk re-injury.”
According to the report, the surgery is set for Sept. 9.
Hurd missed all of one game and nearly all of another last season with an injury to the same shoulder yet still rushed for a state-record 3,357 yards and 53 touchdowns as he led Beech High School to a state championship.
It’s an understatement to say he had nothing to prove this season.
Perhaps, therefore, he saw the 2013 season-opener, Sunday’s 42-39 victory over Station Camp, as a fitting end to his high school career and had planned – or at least considered – this move all along.
After all, the game was televised nationally on ESPN2 so he had his moment in the sun and created a little more recruiting buzz for the Volunteers and first-year coach Butch Jones.
Plus, he’d made it known well before now that he planned to enroll at UT for the spring. In having the procedure now, he will be ready to participate in weight training and conditioning drills the moment he steps on campus. Had he waited until the end of the season, which in Beech’s case likely will be into December, he might not have been cleared for the start of spring drills.
Finally, with his future plans set his decision to step aside allows teammate Dorian Carter to have the spotlight to himself all fall and generate much more recruiting interest than he would have otherwise.
It seems entirely possible that this was a well-orchestrated, well-executed way to walk off into the sunset with his high school legend intact. He wins because he does what he needs to be healthy. UT wins because it gets a top recruit at full strength from the moment he steps on campus. Carter certainly wins because he gets to carry the ball.
There is no flaw – unless Beech suddenly starts to lose games.